Limerick city manager under fire over housing remarks

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

OUTGOING city manager Kieran Lehane has come under fire from residents on the northside and southsides of the city after he said there is “no overwhelming evdence” residents want to return.

OUTGOING city manager Kieran Lehane has come under fire from residents on the northside and southsides of the city after he said there is “no overwhelming evdence” residents want to return.

Documents released to our sister newspaper the Limerick Leader under the Freedom of Information Act show that Mr Lehane said he is “not aware” of any people moved from Moyross, Southill, or any other estate marked for regeneration who want to return there - despite the fact they will get first refusal when they return there.

Mr Lehane’s reasoning was borne of the fact council officials regualrly talk to people who have left the estates.

However, Stephen Corbett, formerly of Crecora Avenue said he was never contacted - but he would not return to the estates given the choice. Meanwhile, Chris Duhig, who has owned his home in Moyross the last 23 years, said he feels many residents would return to the northside.

Mr Corbett, a member of the Ballinacurra Weston Residents Alliance, said: “I felt I had no choice but to accept the Councils paltry offer and become a tenant in another area. I was never formally contacted and offered to go back, but why would I, regeneration has made the place worse, it’s a disaster for the residents that are left with it. I miss my neighbours and I’m still active in the community so I’m up there most days, but I don’t miss the boarded-up houses and the sleepless nights, the area is run-down now because of the Council’s approach to regeneration.”

Mr Duhig says he was “disappointed” at Mr Lehane’s comments - and he feels the council are “wasing their hands” of the process.

Confirming, he wants to remain in the area, he added: “Some people fought hammer and nail not to have moved out of the area. It was City Council and regeneration’s idea to move them out of the area. A lot of people have gone to different areas and found they are misfits in that area. Therefore, a lot of people would return. I don’t think there is need for a survey around that. This kind of comment is not being made by people on the ground from what I see.”

Mr Duhig also believes physical regeneration is far more important than social regeneration - saying visible building in the estates must be key.

“If you have people sitting indoors all day, they are not going to come out and listen to someone preach at them. If they have an opportunity to go and work, to become integrated into the system this is better. If you don’t have something to occupy your mind, you have 101 questions. If you have something to occupy your mind, you have two questions: what am I getting paid, and when I am getting paid?”.